On Solid Ground with Ebony Williams & Charlotte Galleguillos

Charlotte Galleguillos and Ebony Williams. Image: Megan Davis.

L to R: Charlotte Galleguillos, Education and Training Manager and Ebony Williams, Aboriginal Producer at Carriageworks. Image: Megan Davis.

We speak with amazing forces Charlotte Galleguillos, Education and Training Manager and Ebony Williams, Aboriginal Producer who are both leading up the Solid Ground project at Carriageworks. This is what we found out…

What is Solid Ground?

CG: Solid Ground is a major new strategy that engages young Indigenous people living in the Blacktown and Redfern/Waterloo areas in a comprehensive program of individually devised education programs and on the job training. Solid Ground is a partnership between Carriageworks and Blacktown Arts Centre.

What do you see your roles as, in leading the project? Do you have role models yourselves?

EW: I am the Aboriginal Producer for Solid Ground, as the Producer my work is with the delivery of the project activities. One of my favourite parts of the job is working with our Artists in Residence programs. One artist in residence is Tony Albert at Alexandria Park Community School and the other is Blak Douglas at Chifley College, Bidwill Campus. For me seeing what the artists can achieve working alongside students and teachers is very rewarding as the artists are able to help build students’ confidence and provide ongoing support to teachers.

My role models are strong community Elders that share the most amazing stories and youth through my music I have met some incredible young people watching them grow into young leaders within their community is what inspires me most.

What are some of the challenges for Indigenous youth? And how you think Solid Ground addresses these challenges?

EW: In my experience some of the challenges faced by Indigenous Youth are identity, connection to country and racism. Solid Ground provides a platform for all participants to access opportunities that will assist in developing sustainable employment pathways into the arts for Indigenous school leavers, weather they choose to go on with study or get on the job training and experience.

How did you start your career in the Arts?

EW: I am Wiradjuri woman who started working in the arts industry 1998. I have worked with various Indigenous projects and companies including Bangarra Dance Theatre as Assistant Stage Manager; The NSW Centenary of Federation on “Federation Day Parade”; Public Event Group on the Opening Ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games “Awakenings” the Indigenous Segment; National Indigenous Arts Advocacy Association’s “Survival” Day Concerts; Stand Your Ground a project run by PACT Theatre and Gadigal Information Services “Yabun Concert”.

I am also a hip hop artist, I have performed at various festivals and community events, facilitated workshops and projects in hip hop music all over the country at events such as the Back Drop Festival in Cairns, Stylin Up Festival 06 in Inala, Big Sound, Fuse festival, WAMI festival WA, Youth Garma forum, Uncle Jimmy Little’s Thumbs Up program Yirrkala, various schools in the Sydney region, the Settlement, NPY Central Desert Womans Council, Contact Inc Inala Stylin Up 06 and Cellblock Youth Health Services.

Do you have any advice for young people, particularly those who are wanting to work in the arts or have creative careers?

EW: My advice is to give every opportunity that comes your way a go as you never know where that experience may lead you.

What is your long-term vision for Solid Ground?

CG: With continued support from both Blacktown Arts Centre and Carriageworks, I believe the program has the capacity to grow. Next year we aim to add two more schools to our Artists in Residence program, whilst investigating the opportunity to expand the initiative to Regional NSW.

What do you think of International Women’s Day?

CG: If the World Economic Forum is correct in predicting that it will take until 2133 to achieve global gender parity I will be 144 years old. That’s too far away and I won’t be alive to see it.

I believe I am in a position where I can advocate and inspire young people who are aiming for a career in the arts to be able to expect that with the correct tool kit and dedication they will be able achieve their ambitions no matter their gender.

In 2016, what are you most excited by?

CG: I’m excited to be working for two inspiring leaders. Jenny Bisset, Director of Blacktown Arts Centre and Lisa Havilah Director of Carriageworks. Both Jenny and Lisa are working closely with Ebony and I to create more opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in NSW.


Solid Ground is a legacy project resulting from the NSW Government’s Stage One Aboriginal Arts and Cultural Strategy. The project is currently supported through the Federal Government’s Indigenous Advancement Strategy and is a strategic response to the identified need for more skilled Aboriginal artists and arts workers to lead Aboriginal programs.

 The NSW Government’s Stage Two Aboriginal Arts and Cultural Strategy aims to build employment capability in a strong, contemporary multidisciplinary Aboriginal arts and cultural sector. Arts NSW will therefore continue to invest in programs developed under Stage One which have demonstrated effectiveness in increasing professional employment opportunities for Aboriginal arts practitioners and for which there is sustained demand.

 To download a copy of the Stage Two Aboriginal Arts and Cultural Strategy, please click here.

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